But its premise left me cold, partly because Slimani, writing from her Parisian aerie, capitalized on a real-life New York family’s actual horror — the bloody and senseless murder of two young children.
Slimani, 36, said she was inspired by the horrific deaths of Lucia and Leo Krim, the two young children who were found stabbed in the blood-soaked bathtub of their well-appointed Upper West Side apartment a few days before Halloween in 2012. Their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, was charged with their murder, and her trial could begin shortly after her next court appearance on Jan. 22.
The deaths of 6-year-old Lucia, known as Lulu, and her 2-year-old brother shocked an entire city. Who can forget the anguish of their mother, Marina Krim, who returned home to find every parent’s worst nightmare? It’s hard to forget the photographs of her contorted, mad face pressed up to the window of an ambulance as she was driven away from the crime scene.
In France, Slimani saw the same pictures and read the news stories, becoming obsessed with the details of the deaths and the actions of Ortega, then 50, who tried to slit her own wrists and throat as Krim returned home with her other child, 3-year-old Nessie, from an afternoon of errands to make the horrible discovery. And according to police, little Lulu fought tooth and nail against her attacker.
“I knew I wanted to write about a nanny, but it was difficult for me to find a narrative rhythm,” Slimani told me over the phone from Paris. “When I discovered the New York story, I just…